Business Applications of Smartphones

With Smartphones now taking off it is time to pause and consider how this affects the delivery of operational systems, especially those used by people running membership organisations who are apt to lead somewhat peripatetic lives.

Mobile email takes care of some of this but not all. A typical example of what is not accessible by email is a shared contact database such as an association's membership directory. In most cases this is available via a secure web page but can be inconvenient to read on a small screen. One approach is to refactor the website to react to the browser type and deliver smaller pages - these phones all have browsers. However, this can be inconvenient and does not take full advantage of the phone's other facilities, notably the phone dialler, GPS etc.

Mobile Applications ("Apps"), like their desktop counterparts, give access to the full range od facilities on the smartphone. This includes many things that, for good reasons, a web browser is not permitted to access.

We have been working on a couple of native (not web) applications for smartphones and these promise to provide a much more practical experience for people on the move that need to stay in touch with members , customers or even colleagues. These mobile applications can have full access to online resources, either by using their built-in Internet connection or by synchronising central resources to an on-board database.

The key benefits are:

  • Ease of use
  • Much better integration with the phone's features
  • Powerful integration with web-based resources

There are downsides of course, the main one being the need to support a range of different phone platforms and software distribution systems. Emerging leaders include:

  • iPhone
  • Android
  • Blackberry
  • Windows Mobile
  • Symbian

Fortuinately, there are ways to develop software that will run on all these leading platforms. This means that the cost need not be prohibitive. Performance on generic applications can be an issue on the games sector but we think this is unlikely to be a constraining factor in business or administrative applications.

If you'd like to investigate how mobile apps could help improve your operational flexibility please let us know.

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